Memorial Service: Alex Beckett
Hugh Bonneville led Jessica Hynes, Nina Sosanya and Jason Watkins, the cast from the BBC comedies Twenty Twelve and W1A, in a tribute to their co-star Alex Beckett, who took his own life while suffering from depression. They told how his character, the information architect Barney Lumsden, could sell the virtues of an Olympic countdown clock designed to count backwards, or a new BBC logo that did away with the letters B, B and C.
‘Alex was able to find a way of investing his character with a genuine belief in these concepts right up to the moment when they were exposed as completely useless,’ said Sosanya.
‘He had a quality that not only made him funny but made everybody around him funnier at a stroke, and was something to do with a generosity of spirit that was in him,’ said Watkins.
Bonneville told St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden, ‘We’d like to close by showing a couple of short clips of our dear colleague Alex doing what he did best.’
Actor Rory Kinnear said, ‘I felt I could tell Alex anything. We talked about everything, and yet he couldn’t tell me exactly how bad things had got – or perhaps had always been.
‘Alex was so smart, so quick, so wildly funny that – despite being five years older than him – I found myself pathetically desperate to impress him. Alex was a fantastically gifted actor, effortlessly lending any role both lightness and weight.’
Kinnear also read a moving eulogy from Beckett’s stepson Dylan: ‘Alex was always there for me. Polishing my school shoes, making my bed, giving me lifts everywhere, doing my washing, literally everything... We love him to the moon and back. I am so grateful that I got so lucky to have him as a dad.’
Actor Daniel Rigby, telling how he has suffered from depression himself, said Alex was one of the funniest people he had ever met: ‘I have a profound sense of gratitude to have known such a beautiful idiot. But it might have been so much worse. We might never have known him.’
Introducing the hymn Bread of Heaven, the Rev Simon Grigg said, ‘There is not one person who would wish to be here. For many, it may be the first time they have mourned the death of a contemporary. Thirty-five is no age, certainly for such a live spark. Let not the manner of his death cloud a good life.’ JAMES HUGHES-ONSLOW